Ask a firefighter: what can you do to help first responders | Guest columns

The New Year offers opportunities for change, and many residents want to know what they can do to help others. Your local first responders encourage you to focus on yourself as well by putting safety first when making your New Year’s resolutions. By installing highly visible address numbers, residents can help firefighters, police and others. medical staff to improve emergency response times.

Your house number may not seem like a very important part of your landscaping, but this little detail shouldn’t be overlooked. While some house number designs are simply made of materials that are not very noticeable, some residents have not numbered their houses at all. Poorly marked houses and houses without numbers, slow emergency response times. If you can’t see your house number as you drive home in the daylight, imagine how difficult it would be for first responders to see it, and how much more difficult it would be to see it. in darkness, rain or snow.

As part of their ongoing efforts to reduce risk in the community, first responders are asking residents and business owners to “help us help you”. The seconds can make a huge difference in an emergency. Local firefighters are continuing their awareness campaign to remind landowners of the common methods used to regulate and require numbering of all structures to reduce confusion and decrease their response time.

Even if the emergency is not a life and death situation, the length of time that a person can be very uncomfortable or inconvenienced can be affected by the time it takes to find an address. Emergency responders don’t always know the exact location of every home in your town, and if emergency responders are helping each other from a nearby town, they are even less likely to know your location. When responding to an emergency call, police, firefighters and medical staff look up house numbers when they arrive to verify they are in the right place. If you have numbers that blend in with the siding of your home or are not visible at night, it is difficult for emergency personnel to help you.

There are a few simple things you can do to help first responders help you. Make sure that your number is displayed and that it is not discolored or detached from the house or mailbox due to normal wear and tear from inclement weather. Make sure your numbers are large enough to be seen from the road. First responders suggest the numbers are at least 4 inches. If your front door is visible from the road, the numbers should be placed near the front door in a place that will not be obstructed and in a place that will always be visible from the road. To make sure your numbers are easily visible, stand at the end of your driveway or on the road to see how visible they are. Please note that many cities have ordinances regarding the size, color and location of the numbers.

Sometimes a post at the end of a driveway makes more sense. For example, Westerly’s Order 94-6 on the display of numbers states that if the house is more than 50 feet from the road, the house number must be visible and posted on the curb. Remember that it is important to position the numbers at the edge of the street, either on the mailbox or high on a post, rather than on a small yard sign. While signage, carved stones, and logs may be more aesthetically pleasing to homeowners, they are not acceptable because they can easily be moved or covered with snow or growing vegetation.

Your house numbers will be more visible if they are in a color that clearly contrasts with the color of your house. Consider reflective numbers so that your address is clearly visible when the hazard warning lights of response vehicles are reflected on them. Remember, these numbers can save your life in an emergency, so you need to make sure they are visible, large, and in an appropriate color!

Keep in mind that when you put the number on your mailbox, it should be placed on both sides of the box. Mailboxes often only have one number on one side to accommodate mail deliveries, but this is not helpful for first responders who might arrive on either side of the mailbox.

There are many first responders who are willing and able to help you in an emergency. You can make it a bit easier for them by making your address more visible and your home easier to locate. We can’t help you if we can’t find you. For more information on house numbering in your city, call your town hall, visit your hometown website, or just ask a firefighter.

This column was written by Jane Perkins, fire safety specialist for the Rhode Island Southern Firefighters League and Captain of the Watch Hill Fire Department. If you would like to see a question answered in this column, please email them at [email protected]

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